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SLCPD Begins Partnership With Feds to Improve Rape Investigations

Whittney Evans

The Salt Lake City Police Department has formally signed on to partner with a national research organization and the U.S. Department of Justice to establish nationwide standards for handling sexual assault cases. 

The Police Executive Research Forum or PERF will do an on-the-ground examination of four law enforcement agencies across the country, including Salt Lake City. The study is intended to help establish best practices for law enforcement agencies from the moment a crime is reported, to the processing of evidence and prosecution. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank says PERF chose his department to participate in part because of the city’s recent decision to post sexual assault cases online and make public the status of every rape evidence kit in their custody.

“And not only does Salt Lake City want to be a part of that, but I want the process here to be completely open and transparent and anything you find, good, bad or indifferent, we will make public with the eye to improve the process throughout the nation,” Burbank says.

The study will take about a year to complete, but Burbank says the department is prepared to make any necessary changes along the way.

“This will not only be a very sterile study from the outside, but it will also be a study conducted from the inside, with people participating with the detectives and having the insight into the crimes,” Burbank says. “It’s not a matter of just looking at data but actually participating with officers and detectives as they investigate these things.”

The study comes as the Salt Lake City Council considers mandating the department test every rape evidence kit it has in custody despite Burbank’s assertion that testing every single kit is unnecessary and costly. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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